Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007

New Stringtown Road extension now open

Clarksburg residents will now have another way to reach northbound I-270

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Clarksburg residents can now drive straight to Interstate 270 from Stringtown Road thanks to the opening of a new road extension Feb. 3.

Another portion of Stringtown Road had opened in December to help ease traffic flow in the area.

Clarksburg business owners hope the road extension brings more customers to the area. The extension takes Stringtown Road past Route 355 to the northbound lane of I-270.

The county Department of Public Works and Transportation worked with developer Gateway Commons to construct the $8.18 million project. The developer contributed $970,000 to help fund the portion of the road.

Timothy Cupples, chief of the transportation construction section for the public works department, said the road construction was aided by the warm weather earlier this winter. He said that opening the section of the road to the public was gratifying.

‘‘We took advantage of the warm weather,” Cupples said. ‘‘It is within the year the funding is supposed to be spent.”

Construction on that portion of the road began in the fall of 2005. It stretches 2,400 feet and more than 40,000 vehicles will drive on the road each day by the year 2020, Cupples said.

In December, both the northbound and southbound lanes of Stringtown Road from Route 355 to Overlook Park Drive were opened as a widened four-lane road. Developers Newland Communities and Centex Homes were responsible for constructing that road portion.

Joseph Cheung, the Clarksburg road coordinator for the county, said the new extension should boost business in the Highlands of Clarksburg shopping center at the corner of Stringtown and Frederick roads.

‘‘Now you have more visibility,” he said. ‘‘When you are on Stringtown Road you can see the shops. Before the road opened, vehicles used Clarksburg Road to get to Snowden Farm Parkway and bypassed the shopping center.”

Residents from the newer Clarksburg development used to have to come off Stringtown Road and turn either left or right before they could access I-270, Cheung said.

Clarksburg resident Gordon Taylor owns the Upcounty Beer & Wine store located in the shopping center. He said business has been fairly good, but he has had to rely primarily on repeat customers.

‘‘What we haven’t had to date, but what we will have, is much more of spontaneous traffic,” Taylor said.

He said he has talked to other business owners in the Highlands of Clarksburg and they also expect their businesses will grow substantially with the opening of both sections of Stringtown Road.

Taylor also said the opening of the road sections will make Clarksburg a more attractive place to live.

‘‘In general, for the residents it sets the infrastructure for additional retail going forward,” he said. ‘‘Many of the amenities that Clarksburg residents have really been looking for will now be able to take off at this point.”

Aa Salehuddin, the owner of the UPS store in the shopping center, said business has been very bad for him since he opened the store last April and he is paying the rent out of his pocket. He hopes to opening of both road sections will help him drum up business in the coming months.

‘‘This road is very important for our businesses,” Salehuddin said. ‘‘We will be glad if they can finish their construction as quick as possible.”

A few medians will be installed on the Stringtown Road section that stretches from Route 355 to northbound Interstate 270 once the weather warms up again, Cupples said.